Graph and flowchart for strategy

Most of today's blue-chip companies started as the idea of an individual with the drive and skills to bring it to fruition. About a third of students say that they want to start their own business at some point. This may be straight after graduation or after a few years working for a company. In some industry sectors, self-employment is the main and sometimes only option e.g. journalism, creative roles.

There are three main types of self-employment:

  1. Setting up and running a business
  2. Working on a freelance or contracting basis e.g. as a journalist
  3. Buying a franchise

The pros

  • Freedom and autonomy of being your own boss
  • Being able to develop a service/product you are passionate bout
  • The potential to reap the rewards of your own endeavours.
  • More flexible life/work balance
  • Potential for high income

The challenges

  • Only one in three business start-ups succeed
  • You carry full responsibility for all tasks and financial losses
  • It's unlikely you will derive much income in the first year or so, so may have to take a second job or use savings.
  • Pressures from obstacles, mistakes or difficult customers can cause stress and eat ionto your time

Ingredients for success

In addition having an idea or product or service for which there is customer demand you will also need a broad range of skills in order to succeed:

  • Strong work discipline, focus and energy
  • A willingness to take risks and deal with uncertainty
  • High level interpersonal skills including networking
  • A head for business and figures
  • Excellent organisational skills and a rational approach

Weighing it up

  • Ask yourself if you have the skills mentioned above and are prepared to face the challenges listed under cons.
  • Do you have an idea for a product or service that will attract sufficient customers?
  • Who will these customers be, how many and why would they choose your product or service over another.
  • Draw up an evidence based financial plan of projected income and expenditure over the first few years. Is it viable? Will you have enough money to live on?

Further information and assistance:

Research Enterprise Services - Heriot-Watt University

Business Gateway

Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust

Shell LiveWIRE

Edinburgh Business Development

DHP Scotland Ltd

Entrepreneur First

Scottish Enterprise

Entrepreneurial Exchange

Cultural Enterprise Office

Venture capital funding

British Business Angels Association